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Venice's Vast New Flood Barrier Is Almost Here

Work began this week on the last section. Will it do the trick?
A flooded St. Mark's Square during the Venice carnival in February 2015.
A flooded St. Mark's Square during the Venice carnival in February 2015.Stefano Rellandini/Reuters

Canal-laden Venice may be famously in peril from flooding, but thanks to work begun Tuesday, that peril may not last much longer.

Earlier this week, four retractable gates were dragged into the Malamocco inlet, a seaway into the Venice Lagoon that will ultimately be protected by a string of 57 flood barriers that can be raised at high tide. When all these gates are in place by June 2018, every single inlet that could allow flood waters into the Venetian Lagoon will be pluggable when the waters in the Adriatic Sea rise. For a heritage site long under threat, the completion of the huge MOSE project (short for “Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico”) could mark a huge success—a scheme on a pharaonic scale that if effective will definitively prevent Europe’s most beautiful city from disintegrating into salty sludge.